When helping hurts: Miscarried helping in families of youth with chronic pain

Jessica L. Fales, Bonnie S. Essner, Michael A. Harris, Tonya M. Palermo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Scopus citations


ObjectiveTo examine "miscarried helping" as a maladaptive dyadic process in families of youth with chronic pain using the Actor-Partner Interdependence Model.210 adolescents with chronic pain (mean = 14.23 years; 73.9% female) and their parents participating in a multicenter study completed measures assessing pain characteristics, miscarried helping, family functioning, parental protectiveness, and child depressive symptoms.Multilevel modeling revealed significant actor effects of miscarried helping on family functioning for both parents and teens, but not partner effects. Individual-level factors, including child pain characteristics, depressive symptoms, and parental protectiveness, uniquely contributed to miscarried helping.Higher perceptions of miscarried helping contribute to worse family functioning and may be a useful target for psychological intervention in parents of children with chronic pain. Parents who exhibit more protective responses to pain and youth with more depressive symptoms may be at increased risk for a miscarried helping process to develop.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)427-437
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of pediatric psychology
Issue number4
StatePublished - May 2014


  • adolescents
  • chronic and recurrent pain
  • family functioning
  • parent-adolescent communication
  • social support

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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